An Altarpiece for Ran

April 25, 2019 | Filed Under Altars, Devotions | No Comments
I found myself out shopping recently (not my favorite thing, but sometimes necessary), and found a new type of air-dry clay at the Japanese chain Daiso. Being unable to resist the possibility of a new medium in which to play, I acquired a box for testing.
The texture is very different from other polymer clays—it’s light and fluffy, and feels like styrofoam. It was fairly easy to work with, although getting clean, square edges was not as easy as with Das or Sculpey, so I decided to go with irregular shapes.
It dried *fast*. Most air-dry clays take around 24 hours to dry. This was set and ready to paint in about three hours. I hadn’t expected it to be so quick, and hadn’t planned to paint it that day, so it had to wait for the following weekend.
The finished piece is very light, and continues the styrofoam feeling. It seems sturdier than your standard styrofoam cup, however, although I wouldn’t put a lot of weight on a piece, and it’s not safe for use with water (it softens back to its original state) or heat (I didn’t even test it—the package instructions are quite clear about not using it with heat or flame).
It absorbed the acrylic paint easily, and rather a lot of it. However, the paint dried quickly because of that, so painting actually took less time than expected. I chose to paint it in varying shades of blue with spots of white, like the blue ocean waves flecked with foam. The inside is painted shades of sandy brown on the bottom, representing the ocean floor.
The piece contains a necklace of blue-and-purple beads with a silver sea shell, some small shells, and a shell with small pearls.
These items were previously loose on my altar, so it’s nice to have them collected in one place, and also reduces the number of times I accidentally knock one off the Goddesses altar when trying to light the candles. 
For a quick project that doesn’t require a lot of finish and won’t be used with water or flame, the Daiso clay is suitable. I’ll keep using the Das for my altarpiece work, though, as it’s still the best combination of workability and versatility I’ve found with the air-dry clays.
I don’t have a set prayer I use when working with Ran. I work with Her when I’m feeling emotionally blocked and need to get unstuck, or when I am feeling emotionally overwhelmed and need strength to process and channel my feelings. You can also call upon her for strength and confidence in reaching for what you want, although She has no qualms about taking what She wants—wrecking ships for treasures and companions—so you definitely want to temper that energy with consideration for others and for the highest good of all.

 

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Poem: The Arrival of the Bee Box ~ Sylvia Plath

April 24, 2019 | Filed Under Poem for Hela | No Comments

The Arrival of the Bee Box
~ Sylvia Plath

I ordered this, clean wood box
Square as a chair and almost too heavy to lift.
I would say it was the coffin of a midget
Or a square baby
Were there not such a din in it.

The box is locked, it is dangerous.
I have to live with it overnight
And I can’t keep away from it.
There are no windows, so I can’t see what is in there.
There is only a little grid, no exit.

I put my eye to the grid.
It is dark, dark,
With the swarmy feeling of African hands
Minute and shrunk for export,
Black on black, angrily clambering.

How can I let them out?
It is the noise that appalls me most of all,
The unintelligible syllables.
It is like a Roman mob,
Small, taken one by one, but my god, together!

I lay my ear to furious Latin.
I am not a Caesar.
I have simply ordered a box of maniacs.
They can be sent back.
They can die, I need feed them nothing, I am the owner.

I wonder how hungry they are.
I wonder if they would forget me
If I just undid the locks and stood back and turned into a tree.
There is the laburnum, its blond colonnades,
And the petticoats of the cherry.

They might ignore me immediately
In my moon suit and funeral veil.
I am no source of honey
So why should they turn on me?
Tomorrow I will be sweet God, I will set them free.

The box is only temporary.

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Poem: L’Imprévisibilité ~ Zinaida Hippius (Gippius)

April 11, 2019 | Filed Under Poem for Hela | No Comments

You can read about her life on the Russiapedia site.

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Adventures at the Danish National Museum, Copenhagen

April 10, 2019 | Filed Under History | No Comments

My recent business trip took me to Copenhagen (I know, my job is so rough!), where I was able to visit the Danish National Museum. As you might imagine, it’s rich with Viking history, part of the comprehensive overview of 14,000 years of history covered by the exhibits. It’s big. Really big. I spent an entire Saturday there, and did not see everything. (Which means, of course, I need to go back to Copenhagen!)

The museum has several grave finds, and busts of people re-created from various grave sites. This one has the best jewelry:

Danish National Museum - Bust with beaded necklace

Now *that* is a necklace!

The museum also has some amazing artifacts. The Gundestrup Cauldron, for example:

Gundestrup Cauldron

Gundestrup Cauldron

And the Trundholm Sun Chariot! I have been waiting *years* to see it in person!

Trundholm Sun Chariot

Trundholm Sun Chariot

The room it’s in also has a video exhibit about the myth of the sun, which is interesting—except that the room lights dim for the video every two minutes, so it’s hard to get a good look at the chariot.

The museum shop sells full-size replicas of the Chariot, but they were not quite in my price range. Sigh.

And, of course, helmets. These date from 1000 BCE – 700 BCE.

Someone at Marvel must have seen this one.

There are rooms and rooms full of artifacts of daily life—clothes, dishes, tools, and so forth. And then—the Aurochs from Vig, which is 6 feet/2 meters at the shoulder:

Aurochs from Vig

Aurochs from Vig

Our forebears must have been very brave (and very hungry) to hunt this huge beast using only bows and arrows!

Then, you turn a corner, and —runestones!

There’s no railing, so you can get as close as you wish. It’s difficult to describe how massive they are—not just tall (I’m 5’3’/160 cm, everyone and everything is taller than me), but the sheer density of them is incredible. It’s staggering to think about someone having the skill, patience, and time to create these intricate carvings.

The one disappointing thing was the museum food. In need of a rest for our feet and food for our stomachs, we tried to have lunch at the restaurant. We waited at the “please wait to be seated” sign, and were ignored for rather a while. One of the servers finally gave up when we didn’t go away, and informed us that it was impossible for us to eat there, as it was far too busy, even if we were wiling to wait, there would never be a table. We were directed to the downstairs cafe, which has limited (and unappealing) options—a few pastries, some sandwiches that none of us felt brave enough to try, and an assortment of beverages. We caffeinated, and resumed our adventures, but the museum could do much better about fortifying visitors for long days of viewing exhibits.

However, the museum gift shop made up for it! (Note: the shop does sell its goods on the web, and they ship worldwide, in case you can’t get to Copenhagen just now.) I picked up various treasures to bestow upon friends, as well as a few things for myself.

I am quite pleased with this carved horn needle, a replica from the Oseberg Ship:

Oseberg Ship Needle

Oseberg Ship Needle

And this carved horn spoon and bowl for altar use:

Horn Bowl and Spoon

Horn Bowl and Spoon

As well as this adorable plushie raven! (Pictured here with two friends, destined for my friend Karen.) How could you resist that face?

Three Plushie Ravens

Three Plushie Ravens

I certainly couldn’t!

The museum has a dual-language website (Danish and English), with photos and information about many of the items in its collection, as well as the special exhibits. If you don’t have a trip to Copenhagen planned, I recommend checking out the museum’s website—it’s not quite like being there, but it’s a good resource to peruse until you get to Copehnagen to see it in person!

 

Update April 11, 2019: Someone contacted me, asking that I not promote the museum due to its treatment of staff (laying off a large number of them) and concerns about its current director. I think it’s important to support the institution, and address the issues around the people who run it. I am leaving the post up, because I want people to know about the museum, and I am also encouraging people to do their own research about Rane Willerslev, the director. If people feel that Willerslev is not a suitable director for the museum, they can contact the museum to state their opposition to his employment at the museum. I have my opinion and have expressed it to the museum, but my view on the situation may not match the opinion of everyone who reads this post.

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Poem: Lettering ~ Paige Foster

April 5, 2019 | Filed Under Poem for Hela | No Comments

Lettering
~ Paige Foster

Perhaps it is a sort of nostalgia,
this wistful feeling
that blossoms like wet ink on the page
every time I come across your handwriting
in an old book.

(I’ve been thinking about David Palladini most of the week, and this perfect poem came up last night.)

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